Hot Topic: Behind The WikiLeaks “Afghan Diary”
Set up like Wikipedia (the free online encyclopedia anyone can edit), WikiLeaks publishes and comments on formerly secret documents alleging government and corporate misconduct. Its release this week of the “Afghan War Diary“—more than 90,000 U.S. Army and Marine Corps documents chronicling six years of events in Afghanistan (one of the largest unauthorized disclosures in military history)—has angered officials in Washington and overseas.
Here’s the website’s summary of the event:
WikiLeaks has released a document set called the Afghan War Diary, an extraordinary compendium of over 91,000 reports covering the war in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2010.
The reports, while written by soldiers and intelligence officers, and mainly describing lethal military actions involving the United States military, also include intelligence information, reports of meetings with political figures, and related details.
The document collection is available on a dedicated webpage.
The reports cover most units from the US Army with the exception of most US Special Forces’ activities. The reports do not generally cover top secret operations or European and other ISAF Forces operations.
Amongst other things, the documents include “the first publicly released indication the Taliban has used portable surface-to-air missiles against U.S. helicopters” and allegedly shows Pakistan is playing a “double game when it comes to the struggle against Afghan militants.” The documents also report “potential Iranian support of an Afghan terrorist group.”
WikiLeaks protects its sources and as a non-profit, independent site, has currently raised over one million dollars from the general public. By establishing a stateless and office-less news organization, founder Julian Assange has made WikiLeaks almost untouchable. Huffington Post reports Assange is currently under fire from various governments now threatening to prosecute him for revealing their secrets.
According to “former intelligence analyst Bob Ayers” (as quoted in a VOANews.com article) WikiLeaks.org should be contained by the U.S. government:
Ayers believes the American government will have to do something about WikiLeaks. Under U.S. law it is illegal to disclose classified information.
“There is a real dilemma here as to how to deal with a site like WikiLeaks,” said Ayers. “Are they acting in the public good? Are they acting sensationally? Are they endangering the public good? Are they endangering lives by their actions? And those are things that I think we will still see addressed and sorted out over the next six months or so.”
To thwart censorship, WikiLeaks released the leaked documents in three jurisdictions, the United States, Germany and Great Britain.
Not everyone believes the Afghan Diary leaks are crucial. As AC360 blogger Clint Van Winkle writes in “An Epic Yawn Fest,” the actual intel may not be the real issue:
Perhaps the real issue the WikiLeaks fiasco has brought to light is this: the leaks are revelations to far too many people. It seems too many Americans know, and care, more about the cast of The Jersey Shore than they do about the war in Afghanistan and hold those characters in higher esteem than the men and women who have, and continue to, fight in that war.
The current leak follows another high-profile leak back in April, where the site posted horrific video of a 2007 U.S. Apache gunship attack in Baghdad that killed a dozen civilians, including two Reuters journalists. According to WikiLeaks, 15,000 further reports from Afghanistan are expected in coming months.